Emerging technologies commonly known as “rapid prototyping” fabricate solid objects directly from computer models by building parts in thin layers. Three-dimensional printing is one such process that creates engineering prototypes and tooling by joining powder particles selectively on a layer-by-layer basis. The powder-based approach offers tremendous flexibility in geometry and materials, but it makes layer position accuracy a fundamental concern for dimensional control in the vertical direction. Ideally, each powder layer is generated at a vertical position that remains fixed, at a prescribed distance with respect to a machine reference. However, compressive loads imparted to a stack of layers (by the weight of subsequent layers, for example) may cause the layers to displace downward. Develops a model for layer displacement using experimental data for compressibility and applied load. Compares predictions made from the model to measured displacements, and the predictions successfully captured the relative magnitudes of actual errors at various positions within layered powder beds. Position changes were most severe in the middle regions of the powder beds, with diminishing magnitude towards the top and bottom. Uses aluminium oxide powder in two different sizes (approximately of 10-micron and 30-micron diameter) and two different shapes (platelet and spherical) in the studies. The average measured displacement in a 76.2mm deep bed ranged from 23 microns for a 30-micron platelet-shaped powder to over 260 microns for a 9-micron platelet-shaped sample.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/sangjoonjohn_lee/27/